Will my chickens follow me? Will they stay together?


13 Years
Apr 7, 2008
Northern Wisconsin
Am getting 8 heavy brown egg layers, docile breeds. I live on 2 acre lot with open grassy lawn areas (no chemicals) and several hundred feet of moist bog (full of blueberries & raspberries in summer) leading to the edge of a small lake. Would like to let my chickens enjoy all this, but if I let them out of their fenced run to free range, will they stay reasonably together in a flock or scatter willy nilly all over the 2 acres? Do chickens follow their owners around or just do their own thing? I'm obviously new to this "sport" and have visions of chasing chickens through the woods to get them back in at night. Am worried they will roost in trees and get eaten by critters (coons, coyotes, etc. around here). Thanks for humoring a newby.
My chickens pretty much stay pretty close together. Also if you lock them up in your chicken house or coop for a few days or weeks before you let them free range, when you let them out they will know where home and their food and their roost is when it gets dusk. Hope this helps.
They will go everywhere they want and everywhere you don't want them to go, and do so in little groups or on their own. They will only follow you as far as you have goodies for them and then go do their own thing.
They usually stay together, sometimes in several smaller groups. I rarely see one chicken off by themselves, but groups of them will go their separate ways. Mine don't follow me unless I call them while holding the kitchen scraps or the scratch can!

As long as they have been sleeping in a coop and know that is "home base" you shouldn't have to round them up. The first time, I would let them out a half hour or so before they normally go to roost, then they won't have time to go far and when they think "where should I sleep" the coop should still be pretty close by.

I haven't had trouble with heavy breeds getting too adventurous, the bantams are the ones that sometimes decide the trees are a better roost at first.

You say you have an open grassy lawn area. Be careful for hawks.
Mine usually stayed together, but occasionally one or two wouldn't notice when the group moved off, and would frantically run to find them when they realized they were alone.
Before i let my birds out of the pen for the first time i taught them to come to me with a ceramic bowl and spoon. I put the hamburger treat they get in this bowl and clinked the spoon on the bowl, in no time they learn this sound and will come running from anywhere and follow me back in the pen. You could use anything that can be heard from a distance to train them and any food they love. Like you have them out but, need to run to town for awhile and don't feel comfortable leaving them out.
I never had an issue with my birds wandering and not roosting in their coop at night.

I got them as day olds, and raised them in the house with LOTS of contact for the first 2 months....while I was renovating my old shed into a coop and adding a run.

I put them out in the coop at 2 months old and left them locked in the coop for a week, then opened the coop to the run, left them to the coop and run for another week before allowing them to come out and range.

They wander the yard, but will not leave the yard, and always go back in the coop at dusk to roost. I live in the city, and have a small yard compared to the acres on acres that most have. Never had them jump over the fence and wander into a neighbors yard, they always stay in the fence.

When I come home, they hear my truck, and come running to say hi, they all gather at the side of the truck and wait patiently for me to open the door and then they follow me to the back patio and I set with them for a few minutes and "talk" LOL!

I'm not sure if I have trained them or what it is, but I just have to say "come here" and they all come running.
Wow, GREAT ideas! Will follow all your advice collectively, which is sure to work! This forum is AMAZING. I was wondering what I'd gotten myself into ordering chicks, but now I feel better, knowing I have all this experience to draw from, and a crisis management team on standby! Thanks to all.

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